Quitting Google

UnGoogled: A Week of Discovering Alternatives For Google’s Services
The other day, when I came to know about Google Dashboard, I thought I’d check out just how much of my life is in Google’s servers. I was shocked with what I saw. I was practically living my life with Google. And the revelation set my brain in motion – that maybe… just maybe, I’d become a Googaholic. I started wondering whether I could survive being off Google’s services for an entire week. And thus started my week-long quest to look for free, functional alternatives to most things Google.

Texting in class, templates, HE admin, graduation

Professor Textblaster 
Many of Todd McCann’s students suffer from a chronic disease. Call it CRS: Can’t Remember Squat. Now they have no excuse. Mr. McCann, an English instructor at Bay College, in Michigan, is deploying students’ own favorite technology to burn away the memory fog. He blasts his classes text-message reminders using Broadtexter, a free software program used by bands to create mobile fan clubs. Rather than texting tour dates, he keeps the phones in students’ pockets buzzing with regular reminders like “Paper 4 is due tomorrow.”

50 time-saving Google Docs templates
Google Docs templates make life just that much easier by providing the bare skeleton of a specific document, spreadsheet or presentation – all you have to do is fill in the blank bits with your information.

What’s in a name? Nothing good, AUA members argue
There are three problems with the Association of University Administrators’ name. Some members are not sure about the “association” part; opinion is divided on the “university” element; and there are serious doubts about the term “administrators”. … For anyone who struggles with higher education’s litany of abbreviations and acronyms, the list of suggested alternatives may send a shiver down the spine. They include the Universities Professional Staff Association (Upsa); the Institute of Higher Education Managers and Administrators (Ihema); Higher Education Managers and Administrators (Hema); Managers and Administrators in Higher Education (MAHE); University Managers and Administrators (Uma); and Managers and Administrators in Universities and Higher Education (MAUHE). However, abbreviation-phobes can rest easy – a name change is unlikely.

York Minster not an option for graduation
The University of York has cited a diverse range of faiths among the student body as the main reason for graduation ceremonies to continue to be held in Central Hall, as opposed to York Minster. Much attention has been brought to the issue by the fact that York St. John University students hold their graduation ceremonies in the Minster, something that many University of York students view as unfair.

Feedback

Rosie Waterhouse: Save us from the tyranny of student surveys
Over the next three months, final-year undergraduates at British universities will be encouraged to take part in the National Student Survey commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council. The NSS is just one of an ever-increasing number of surveys and forums by which students are invited to give “feedback” on their university experience.

HE records, vagueness

Records Retention in HE Introduction
JISC infoNet is pleased to announce the launch of the new Business Classification Scheme (BCS) and Records Retention Schedule (RRS) for Higher Education Institutions. The 3rd iteration of this highly regarded resource is the result of extensive consultation within the sector plus significant additional research both undertaken for JISC infoNet by Emmerson Consulting.

Book of the week: Not Exactly: In Praise of Vagueness
In an increasingly complex digital world, it is tempting to get sucked into the precision – often a wholly spurious precision – that seems endemic to this culture. I recently caught myself doing it, despite my own distinctly analogue leanings. When asked for the time at a bus stop last week, I found myself replying “Seven forty-eight” – instead of the answer I would usually give: “Just after quarter to eight.” I put this momentary lapse of good taste down to early morning low blood sugar and the disabling effect of public transport, but it is a symptom of something much bigger – a subject that has captured the (not insubstantial) imagination of computer scientist Kees van Deemter.

Records management

Records management
Government has a duty to manage its paper and digital records effectively – to support ongoing business, and to preserve the record and memory of government. Government departments, and other organisations within the scope of the Public Records Act 1958, are responsible for selecting records to be permanently preserved and keeping them in proper conditions. The National Archives’ chief executive is responsible for co-ordinating and supervising the work of selection.

Records Management InfoKit
Records management is an established theory and methodology for ensuring the systematic management of all records and the information they contain throughout their lifecycle. The core concept underpinning records management theory is that of the lifecycle, which sees records having a series of phases from creation to final outcome ultimately resulting either in their controlled destruction or being retained on a permanent basis as an archival record. This infoKit is based around the well established concept of lifecycle management and how it should be specifically applied to the management of records.

Kinky fraud

  • “A university registrar offered bogus degrees in return for spanking sessions in a hotel, a court was told yesterday. Karl Woodgett, 37, former registrar at the University of Surrey and the University of Bath, already had a lucrative sideline selling degrees to African women when he came up with a way of satisfying his sexual desires at the same time. …”

Mindfulness

Be Mindful is a campaign, by the Mental Health Foundation, raising awareness about the benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness helps people change the way they think, feel and act. It helps them to break free from a downward spiral of negative thought and action, and make positive choices that support their wellbeing.

Data gov

Data.gov.uk versus Data.gov – Which wins?
Back in May last year, the US government launched Data.gov as a statement of transparency, and the Internet rejoiced. After the launch, excitement kind of fizzled with the actual Data.gov site. Then just a couple of weeks ago, Data.gov.uk launched, which brought me back to the US counterpart. How do the two compare? Here’s my take.

Computing’s pioneers

Computer pioneer interactive family tree
BBC News is running a series of articles about pioneering British computers and computer pioneers. To find out about the contribution British scientists made to early computer development and how they were linked, click on the project names below.

computings-pioneers-1

Disappointment, digital design

Why are you so terribly disappointing?SF Gate
What happened to my bonus? What happened to my job? What happened to my country? Why can’t it all go the way it’s supposed to go? You mean having a kid won’t solve my marriage problems? Why don’t these drugs make me feel better? Where’s that goddamn waiter with my salad? Have you seen the stupid weather today? Is this really all there is?

Making digital content on the mobile phone physically graspable – Infosthetics
The weight-shifting method allows a phone to communicate to users where to walk by dynamically changing its gravitational center along two axes. The shape-changing method is able to convey where more information is located outside of the screen by changing the thickness of a phone at its corners. And lastly, the ‘living’ method allows a mobile phone to display emotional states due to a continuous heartbeat and breathing-like motion that can be felt ambiently in your trouser pocket.

Privacy, iPads, art student satisfaction

What day is it? It’s Data Privacy Day!
Take a moment and think about what Google knows about you. Correspondence and contacts via email, schedule via calendar, interest via feed reader, purchases via Checkout, and most importantly your day-to-day via search. How do you feel about a single company knowing that much about you? Don’t you want to know how they use all that data and more importantly, how they protect it?

Diagnosing the tablet fever in higher education
Tablet-style computers could be game-changers for colleges, bringing in a new era of classroom collaboration and pushing the adoption of electronic textbooks over a tipping point. Today’s announcement by Apple Inc. of the iPad tablet has education watchers predicting a wave of student purchases, major textbook publishers rejoicing, and at least one college saying it will consider giving them to all incoming students. But wait — it might be time to take a deep breath to let the excitement of the sales pitch fade.

Academics in art and design have drawn up a plan to tackle stubbornly low scores for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey
[D]espite efforts to improve the ratings, art and design still does not perform well in comparison with other subject areas, according to a forthcoming report, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better: The Paradox of NSS Scores for Art and Design. […] The widely held view was that the pedagogy of art and design subjects, where students are encouraged to explore and navigate their own way through projects with support, was poorly served by NSS questions, which were felt to relate more to subjects with a highly timetabled, often lecture-based, structure.

Outdated admin, new networks

DC Deficit Fixer: Print on Both Sides of Paper – $102M in painfully obvious cuts shows how outdated gov’t is
A short while ago, President Obama called on his Cabinet to make budget cuts in their departments totaling $100 million. They came up with $102 million, but some of the cuts were so obvious one wonders why it took a presidential edict to elicit them, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Keeping cyberspace open to the public
The argument over the public space of the network has not gone away, however, although it now relates to a different level of the network. Instead of the internet itself as a collection of linked computers it concerns the social network and the various sites, tools and services that many of us now rely on.

Student debt

‘Rent arrears’ student wins right to graduate
Tommy Geddes, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Winchester, said: “The university has reached a settlement with Maria that allows her to graduate without being in debt to the university. “We have reached a settlement in order to save costs and the university has not made any admission of liability with respect to its right to bar students from graduating while in debt.”

Stress, health, Facebook

ISMA – NSAD – National Stress Awareness Day
The next National Stress Awareness Day will be on Wednesday 3rd November 2010. Now is the time to start thinking about what you can do to raise awareness in your company, organisation, department and yourself, or if you are a Stress Management Practitioner; what can you do to raise Stress Awareness in your customers, clients, your local town, your local businesses/organisations and local government.

Stress – Treatment 
Some people are often unwilling to ask for help if they feel stressed. They may feel embarrassed, or that they should be able to deal with stress on their own. However, if you are stressed, it is important to speak to someone about your feelings, particularly if they are interfering with the way that you live your life.

Seven productivity tips for people that hate GTD
Here are seven of the best, simple, and sometimes seemingly upside down tips for being more prolific. … Create a “to stop” list; Focus on short bursts; Define your daily ass-kicking; Allow yourself to suck; Focus on the Three C’s; Stop caring about things that don’t matter; Make it stupidly simple.

Black tea soothes away stress
[O]ur study suggests that drinking black tea may speed up our recovery from the daily stresses in life. Although it does not appear to reduce the actual levels of stress we experience, tea does seem to have a greater effect in bringing stress hormone levels back to normal. This has important health implications, because slow recovery following acute stress has been associated with a greater risk of chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease.

Conversations about the internet #5: Anonymous Facebook employee
Though forthcoming, my friend was anxious to preserve her anonymity; Facebook employees, after all, know better than most the value of privacy. As she is not permitted to divulge company secrets, and would like to remain employed, her name has been omitted from this interview. It provides an interesting snapshot of the inner workings and culture of Facebook in the summer of 2009.

Future shock, adhocracy

Future shock
Toffler argues that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a “super-industrial society”. This change will overwhelm people, the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving them disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation” – future shocked. Toffler stated that the majority of social problems were symptoms of the future shock. In his discussion of the components of such shock, he also coined the term information overload.

Adhocracy
[A]dhocracies will get more common and are likely to replace bureaucracy. … Downsides of adhocracies can include “half-baked actions”, personnel problems stemming from organization’s temporary nature, extremism in suggested or undertaken actions, and threats to democracy and legality rising from adhocracy’s often low-key profile. To address those problems, researches in adhocracy suggest a model merging adhocracy and bureaucracy, the bureau-adhocracy.

Keeping busy

Current ISMS projects at Anglia Ruskin University

Anglia Ruskin University looks to have a very smart, comprehensive, well-resourced project office within its IT Services section. I’m very jealous of its Current Projects page, especially the E-Administration Programme. Some great project management / presentation ideas there.

100 terrific productivity tools for the bored or unemployed
Whether you’re bored out of your mind at the office or don’t have an office to go to, there’s no reason to sit around idly when there’s so much you could potentially be getting done. With the web at your fingertips, you can find numerous ways to keep your mind and body engaged and active. These 100 tools will help you get busy doing just about anything from organizing your DVD collection to planning your potential future, giving you no excuse to be bored or unemployed for long.

From the leaders of Google’s data visualization research group

HINT.FM / Fernanda Viegas & Martin Wattenberg
As technologists we ask, Can visualization help people think collectively? Can visualization move beyond numbers into the realm of words and images? As artists we seek the joy of revelation. Can visualization tell never-before-told stories? Can it uncover truths about color, memory, and sensuality?

Animating magazines

Don’t make me scroll
This is the short version of a presentation on online magazines we’ve been working on here at Redub. It ends with a link to an in-development demo that features content from GOOD’s Transportation Issue 015. Casey Caplowe (GOOD’s Creative Director) generously gave us the InDesign files for the entire issue and we re-figured some of the content so it fit on the screen natively. We even had to re-imagine the Transparencies because they just didn’t work just throwing the original (for-print) image up on the screen (which is what most publishers do sadly) — since we didn’t have the high resolution of print, we took advantage of the screen’s native attributes, namely, animation. I’d even posit that what the screen lacks in dots per inch it more than makes up for in dots per inch per second.

SLC resignations

Two directors of Student Loans Company resign
Two directors of the crisis-hit Student Loans Company have resigned over errors that led to tens of thousands of students starting term with no cash this autumn. Wallace Gray, who was in charge of the company’s computer network as IT director, and Martin Herbert, director of marketing and customer services, have left the company, SLC’s board said today. The firm’s chief executive, Ralph Seymour-Jackson, will stay.